Valentine, circa 1938, from collection of SWMBO’s late Dad.
Here comes St. Valentine’s Day again.
Thanks to the Great American Cultural Leveling Machine, the deeply-rooted pagan origins and grafted-on Christian religious aspects of the day have been scraped off clean [nice turn of phrase, that] and the result is a completely secular Hollow-Day that can safely be observed by pretty much everybody. I wouldn’t be surprised if even our Rabbi gave his wife a Valentine’s Day card, so far removed has this day come from its origins.
As a Jew, I could legitimately choose to ignore Valentine’s Day.
As an American, I would legitimately get my ass in Dutch with the Missus should I do so.
For this is a day that celebrates Love. Love in its infinite variety. (Although you can check your inflatable barnyard animals at the door, know what I’m sayin’?)
We can thank DeBeers, the Restaurant Association, the Greeting Card Council, the Alcoholic Beverage Commission, the Amalgamated Chocolate Bon-Bon Trust, the Cheesy Motel Room Operators of America, et alia, for the fact that V-day has begun to mutate...from a holiday that celebrates Romantic Love to a day that acknowledges all Love-Based Relationships. Last year, I dubbed this phenomenon “Valentine Bloat,” that growing tendency to send Valentine’s Day cards, gifts, et cetera, and what-not to all sorts of friends and relatives, not just “lovers.” The Collective Valentine Products Industry has sold us the notion that all loving relationships - parental, filial, romantic, brokeback - should be suitably honored on V-Day. Ridiculous - yet who am I to sweep back the tide with mine own measly broom?
And besides, deep down I have a deep respect for any Celebratory Occasion that involves chocolate. Chocolate and champagne. Chocolate, champagne, a romantic candlelit dinner, and Hot Monkey Love. Yeah, I’m all over that.
When we met, we were both young people, beginning new careers and independent lives. Both of us had had loving relationships before, relationships that eventually foundered because something was lacking. But as early as our third evening together, as I sat across from her at dinner, I thought I saw something in her eyes...some mysterious spark that said that this was going to be different. This was going to be a friendship - nay, a love - that would last a lifetime.
I have known her now for thirty years. Every morning when I wake up to find her beside me, I say a silent prayer of thanksgiving. She has wandered the country with me, given me children - the best frickin’ kids on the planet, in my not-so-humble-and-unbiased opinion - and given me a lifetime of happy memories. She lights up the room with her smile, and she cracks me up with her jokes.
And when I look at the curve of her shoulder in the moonlight, the years fall away, and I am young again.
She is my SWMBO, and I love her.